Ryan’s 374 yards and career-high five touchdown passes are indicative of his ability to exploit one of the NFL’s top receiving corps.
The last rookie receiver to catch three touchdown passes in one game was Odell Beckham Jr.; that’s an indication of how special Ridley could become at the receiver position.
While it is still early in his NFL career, Ridley has already exhibited the levels of speed, strength and football intelligence that could make him a terror for opposing secondaries for a long time.
His versatility has even prompted offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian to use him in the Falcons’ running game.
Running back Devonta Freeman did not practice Wednesday, which might mean he will miss his second straight game. The Falcons’ running game was ineffective last week; the team rushed for a total of 48 yards. Tevin Coleman had 33 yards on 15 carries, and Ito Smith ran for -6 yards on two attempts. Atlanta must find a way to supplement its passing game with a productive running game.
The loss of safety Ricardo Allen will further strain a defensive unit which has already lost two Pro-Bowlers to injury. The emergence of Damontae Kazee at the safety spot will help, but the defensive unit as a whole must play outstanding if they are going to slow down the visiting Bengals.
Defensive lineman Takk McKinley participated in limited practice on Wednesday, as did linebacker Foyesade Oloukun, who left last week’s game early with an ankle injury. Both players look to be on the field against Cincinnati.
The Bengals will bring the league’s sixth highest scoring offense (29.7) into Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Sunday. Cincinnati is coming off of a 31-21 loss to the Carolina Panthers, in a game where Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton threw four interceptions.
The Bengals’ offense revolves around Dalton, wide receiver A.J. Green and running back Joe Mixon. Mixon and Green were both listed on the Bengals’ injury report: Mixon for a foot injury, and Green for a pelvic injury. The Bengals’ ability to score points rests significantly on the ability of Green and Mixon to get healthy prior to Sunday’s game.
Cincy’s defense will rely on linebacker Nick Vigil and cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick to slow down the Falcons’ passing attack. Vigil is the Bengals’ leader in tackles, and Kirkpatrick will look to keep the ball out of the hands of wide receiver Julio Jones. This might be a tall task for Kirkpatrick, who is recovering from a groin injury.
Kickoff for the Falcons and Bengals is Sunday at 1 p.m.